Writer’s Note: This post is meant to be read with the following song playing quietly in the background
I woke up on Thursday, May 24th, and called House of Hoops. The Question, Allen Iverson’s signature Reebok shoe, was getting re-released the next day. I dialed their number and cleared my voice.
“Are you guys getting the Questions tomorrow?”
“No, we’re not,” the employee responded.
I assumed House of Hoops opened specifically for occasions like this. I did a real life SMH.
“Are any stores around here getting them?”
“Champs Sports is getting them. Call them.”
I hung up and dialed Champs Sports.
“We’re not getting any pairs,” they said, “But Foot Action is definitely getting them. Call them.”
I looked up the Foot Action number, and called them with the same question.
“We’re not getting those shoes.”
I asked if they knew any other stores I could call.
“House of Hoops is definitely getting them.”
I told them I already called House of Hoops.
“Champs Sports will have them.”
I told them I already called Champs and they weren’t getting any pairs.
“Well, call them again.”
“Why would I call them again?” I responded.
“I don’t know. Fuck you. Bye.” (I added “fuck you”)
And that’s the day I discovered that the Reebok Question would never make it to Oregon.
I woke up the next day and called House of Hoops. The Nike N7 Zoom KD IV’s came out that morning in limited release. The N7’s are a line promoting activity and sport within the Native American population. The name refers to Native American wisdom that the consequences of every action must be considered for seven generations. The N7 KD IV’s combined the KD IV silhouette with two variations of N7 colorways. I was disappointed to have missed out on the Question. I set my sights on this KD IV collaboration.
I scrolled down to House of Hoops on my iPhone.
“Do you have any KD IV N7’s in stock?”
“We’re not getting any pairs. Call the downtown Nike store.”
I looked up the number for the Nike Portland store.
“Sorry, we’re not getting any pairs. Call the outlet store.”
I looked up the number and called the Nike Factory Store.
“We don’t have any pairs, but the Woodburn Outlets got a shipment.”
I smh’d. I was on the verge of missing out on two releases. How would I face my e-friends? I thought about going to Wendy’s and calling it a day. I reluctantly called the Woodburn Outlet Nike Store.
“Do you have the KD IV N7’s?”
I began to sweat.
“Yes, we have some in stock.”
I smiled for the first time in weeks (since I got the Playoff 12′s).
“Do you have them in 10.5?”
A fair question from a potential customer.
“We can’t tell you,” the employee replied.
“We can’t tell you what we have over the phone. You have to come to the store,” he insisted.
“But do you have pairs?”
That’s 2 out of 2 in the fair question department.
“Yes we have a certain number of pairs remaining,” he replied.
“How many pairs?”
A third fair question.
He raised his voice.
“I can’t say over the phone.”
“Can you whisper it?” I asked.
The Woodburn Outlet Mall is located about 30 miles south of Beaverton. Nike chose this location out of all the stores in the immediate Portland area. The outlet made local headlines last Black Friday by having a mile long line that stretched off the I-5 onramp. I looked at my Toyota Corolla and knew what I had to do. I arrived at the store thirty minutes later. There was a stack of boxes with the white colorway of the shoe at the back of the store. I grabbed my shoe size, opened the box, and logged onto Twitter. Then I heard a voice.
“There’s a limit of one pair per person,” the employee behind me said.
I turned around.
“Is it one colorway per person or overall one pair per person?”
“You can only get one pair per person,” he said.
“I can’t get one pair of each colorway? I want to support Native American athletics,” I said.
He said, “You can get both colorways.”
“So I can get two pairs of shoes, one in each colorway?” I asked.
Another Nike employee joined the conversation.
I asked him, “Can I get one pair of each colorway or is it one pair per person?”
He said, “You can get one pair of each colorway.”
I said, “Okay, so that’s two shoes, one in each colorway.”
Another Nike employee came over and said, “No. You can only get one pair. One colorway.”
“Are you sure? I thought it was one colorway per person, per day,” someone interjected.
To which someone replied, “What? One pair per person?”
To which someone responded, “One pair per colorway.”
“Yes, there are 24 hours in a day,” someone said over the intercom.
“Is a person a colorway?” someone asked.
Someone responded, “Colorways are people, yes. But only one pair.”
“But what is a color?” someone asked.
And so on, for the next ten minutes.
I believe it was Samuel Beckett who wrote about a similar situation in his famous “Waiting for Godot”. The play, written in 1953, is about two characters who wait outside of a Foot Locker for a pair of Yeezy 3’s that never get released. They end up waiting forever wearing bootleg foamposites, smh.
Allen Iverson showed up to game 6 of the 76ers/Celtics Eastern Conference semi-finals game earlier in the week. The Twitter reaction focused on his appearance – same backwards cap, same blue 76ers jacket, same chain, and of course, the same red and white Questions. He re-iterated his desire to get another shot with an NBA team during a third quarter interview:
The Reebok Question became Iverson’s signature shoe during his rookie season in 1996. The shoe referred to the larger question of:
The shoe, with its unique honeycomb hexalite technology represented Iverson’s quickness and speed, but also the small breaks in life that either go or don’t go a certain way. The streetball attitude, the signature moment, the simple yet innovative design – it all came together for Reebok in 1996 in the form of the Question. And here it was, re-released on the last Friday of May, 2012, to a new generation raised on a Nike/Jordan Brand monopoly.
Kevin Durant spent that same Friday handling shoe requests on Twitter. The most common interaction was something like “Hey KD, the shoes sold out in my neighborhood” with KD responding “I got you”. One defining trait of all versions of his line is the under $100 price point. The line also features a personal touch, adding Durant’s zip code, house number, and small reminders to appreciate his gifts embedded on the sole. The shoes are humble, down to earth, respectful, knowledgeable, unlimited range, pass the ball Russell West…shit, my bad.
I got a pair of white KD IV’s from the outlet and drove home (it turns out the black colorways had sold out hours earlier). They’d make a good summer shoe and I’d remember the summer of 2012 as the time when I wore N7 KD IV’s, and add that mentally to my life story collection (this winter I got my first pair of Janoski’s ‘cause I liked the versatility of the design and I wore it to formal gatherings, and last summer was the Air Max 90 Infrared Quickstrike I bought off eBay which I couldn’t wear until August ‘cause it rained all summer, and so on…).
I talked to people on Twitter then took a nap. When I woke up, I called Papa John’s. My order went off without a hitch, without any pepperoni pizza-as-gateway-to-existential-life argument. And it was all quiet on the Twitter front. There was no Friday night NBA game for the first time in months, no chance for Durant to score 40 in his new colorways, no potential moment to crystallize on Youtube so kids 30 years from now will know why they camp out overnight for a N7 KD IV retro re-release.
Chuck Taylor retired from basketball in 1921 and took a job as a salesman. But Chuck Taylors have sold over 600 million pairs worldwide and, 90 years later, are still the signature shoe for smoking weed in college dorms across the country. An entire generation who only know Jordan through Kobe Bryant comparisons camp out for days to get his latest shoe, even if the Bobcats went 7-59 last season. Penny Hardaway’s career ended five years ago when he got waived for Luke Jackson – and yet, a version of his shoe caused a riot in Orlando last winter and go for $2500 on eBay. Once you have that, once you reach that level, you’re immortal. Iverson’s Question released Friday morning at midnight online. They were sold out by the time I logged onto Reebok around 12:30 am. People began lining up hours earlier for the morning release. Pairs are going on eBay for $250. Reebok is rumored to be planning future re-releases of various shoes he wore throughout his career. One more chance to return to the league? Iverson never left.
This blog post by the numbers:
Retail Price of The Question: $125
Current Price of The Question on eBay: $225-$350
Retail Price of Nike N7 KD IV: $95
Current Price of Nike N7 KD IV on eBay: $150-$225
Retail Price of Lebron 9 P.S. Elite “Miami Vice”, released June 2nd: $250
Lebron 9 P.S. Elite “Miami Vice” on eBay: $400 and above
Retail Price of Nike Air Yeezy 2, released June 9th: $250
Future Price of Nike Air Yeezy 2 on eBay: Infinity